Close
Close

Build Blog Products That Sell 4: Price Your Product

This guest series is by Greg McFarlane of Control Your Cash.

If you’re late to this particular party, we’ve been spending the last few weeks examining ways to monetize your blog in an era when readers are holding onto their wallets more tightly than ever.

Checkout

Image courtesy sotck.xchng user Dioptria

Sure, you can make money by selling ads if all you care about is revenue. Any link farm can do the same thing. But by extending one’s blog into different media, a diligent blogger can create and sell products that no one else can duplicate.

The process we’ve stepped through so far has been fairly straightforward. First, coldly assess what makes your blog distinctive. (If the answer is anything other than “Nothing” or “I don’t know”, proceed to the next step.)

Next, create something identifiable with your blog and your style—a video lecture series, ebooks, online classes, personal coaching, podcasts, whatever. Budget the requisite time to create your products, plan far enough in advance that your blog won’t be compromised in the short run, test-market your products, then make them available for sale. Couldn’t be easier, right?

This is precisely where many would-be entrepreneurs get smacked in the face with the harsh truth of the marketplace: putting a dollar figure on that product.

How much should you charge?

Not to turn this into a university-level economics lesson, but the tricky thing is to set a price that maximizes revenue. Sure, you can sell your ebook for 10¢ and theoretically reach the widest possible audience. But if you could charge three times the price, and still retain half your audience, wouldn’t that make more sense?

Ideally you’re doing this to turn a profit, which isn’t necessarily the same as generating as much revenue as possible. You also need to factor in your expenses. Otherwise, this is just a pastime or a vanity project. Creating products certainly requires time, and possibly requires materials.

That means that before you sell your first unit, you’ll already have spent money that you’ll need to recoup.

Say you’ve spent 30 hours writing a plan for a coaching program you plan to sell via your blog. Is $20 an hour a fair assessment of your worth? (That is, could you have earned that much doing something else?) Then you’ll need to sell a single copy for $600. Or two for $300 each. Or three for $200. Or…

You can see where this is going. It’s tempting to lower the price as much as possible, in the hopes that every reduction will attract more buyers. That’s largely true, but a) the relationship isn’t linear and b) there’s a limit—otherwise, you could give your product away and an infinite number of people would use it.

Finding the balance

How many unique visitors do you have? If you don’t know, Google Analytics can give you an idea. What proportion of those are invested in your blog and read it regularly? And what proportion of those will cough up a few minutes’ worth of wages in exchange for the promise of you enriching their lives somehow?

On the flip-side are blogging entrepreneurs who charge too much for their services. They’re like the commission salesman who wanted to get a job at Northrop Grumman, selling B-2 Spirit heavy bombers at $1 billion apiece. (“People have been slamming doors in my face all week, but I get 10% of each sale. And all it takes is one.”)

To avoid this, you need to find a comfortable medium between how much you’re willing to accept, and how much your product can realistically benefit its user. That sounds obvious, but most sellers don’t even bother weighing those variables. They just conjure up a price and hope for the best.

What does your product do … for whom?

Be honest with what your product can do. It won’t make the blind walk and the lame see. But will it show readers how to declutter their lives once and for all? Can it teach them how to change their car’s oil and tires themselves, instead of relying on costly technicians? Can it help readers travel to strange places inexpensively, and does it include an appendix that will teach those readers how to keep their cross-border hassles to a minimum?

Then say so. You don’t have to work miracles. You just have to make some aspect of your readers’ lives easier, less complicated and/or more fulfilling.

More to the point, remember who you’re selling to: your readers, not yourself. No one cares how much asbestos you inhaled in the mine, they just want the diamond. It’s a cardinal rule of civilization that results count, not effort.

One famous globetrotting blogger has recently diversified, and now sells a guide that ostensibly tells artists how they can throw off the shackles of poverty and start making money. He’s certainly appealing to his clientele’s emotions—what’s a more accurate stereotype than that of the starving artist?

Never mind that this blogger is not an artist, and that his background consists of little more than that educational punchline, a sociology degree. His blog’s sales pitch details how many painstaking hours he spent writing how many words and conducting how many minutes of interviews in the creation of his guide, as if any of that matters to an artist who just wants to know how to locate buyers for her decoupage and frescoes.

Keep scrolling down and you’ll find out that for just $39, you’ll receive “15,000 words of excellent content”. No one buys this kind of thing by volume. Xavier Herbert’s Poor Fellow My Country runs over 850,000 words. That’s 90 times longer than Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which sold far more copies and was far more influential.

Don’t hide your price!

That brings us to another thing not to do: treat the price as fine print. Which is to say, don’t build to a crescendo and make your readers sift through paragraph upon paragraph of hard sales copy before finally deigning to tell them how much your product is going to cost them. To do so is insulting. It’s the tactic of someone who has something to hide.

(There’s one exception to this rule. That’s when you’re using the late-night infomercial strategy, saving the price of your product until the very end because it’s so shockingly low. That almost certainly doesn’t apply in your case. You’re not an experienced marketer with a reputation, hawking indestructible knives and superabsorbent towels that suck up ten times their weight in liquid. You’re a blogger looking to turn your followers from loyal readers into paying customers.)

Getting back to the real blogger in our example, if you spend another $19 on the deluxe version, he’ll throw in three more audio interviews. There’s nothing quantifiable here, just a collection of messages that differ by media. (Incidentally, I asked this blogger how what kind of volume he does. I wasn’t expecting an answer and didn’t receive one, but it was important to make an effort to see if his methods worked.)

Given the choice, I’d rather take my chances giving my money to a blogger with authority and experience, who’s offering me something believable, and who’s not afraid to tell me how much it’ll cost me and how much it’ll benefit me. Is that you?

One more thing. If you’re creating a series of products in which each builds on the previous ones and no individual product can stand alone, you’re putting yourself in a fantastic position. You can give away the first and then start charging with the second. If you do, that’ll give you an accurate gauge of how many people are legitimately interested in your product, as opposed to just being curious.

Accounting for expenses

Once you make the decision to sell, and to price, you’ll have to account for expenses you’d never imagined. Maybe you’ll need to move from a shared host to a dedicated one. Or pay for a business license in your home jurisdiction. Or hire a graphic designer after concluding that your own Adobe Illustrator skills are wanting. A few hours of planning and estimation now can save you weeks of frustration down the road.

Speaking of quantifying, here’s a sample budget (in PDF) that you can adapt for your own use. Be conservative with your revenue estimates, liberal with your expense estimates, and you can get a better handle on how much you should charge when your products finally make it to market.

You might also find the formula presented in The Dark Art of Product Pricing useful. It integrates many of the considerations I’ve outlined here but, like this post, that one can’t definitively tell you what you should charge either. Ultimately, that’s up to you.

Key points

  • Cover your expenses. Don’t set your prices so low that you’re losing money on every sale.
  • Don’t set your prices so high that you need to camouflage them, either. Be direct.
  • Honestly assess what your product can do for your customers.
  • Explain to your customers what they’ll get for their money.
  • Like anything else, first plan, then execute.

Next week, we’ll discuss how to increase your potential clientele beyond its traditional bounds.

Greg McFarlane is an advertising copywriter who lives in Las Vegas. He recently wrote Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense, a financial primer for people in their 20s and 30s who know nothing about money. You can buy the book here (physical) or here (Kindle) and reach Greg at [email protected].

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Shayna says:

    Greg, this is one of my favorite series I’ve ever seen on Problogger!

    Just a note, there’s no link in this sentence:

    Speaking of quantifying, click here (LINK) for a sample budget that you can modify.

  2. Justin Mazza says:

    This is valuable stuff Greg, thanks for clarifying it for me. :) Since blogging I have learned through trial and error but learning what works and doesn’t from those before me works much better.

  3. Sandra Tedford says:

    This is an insightful series Greg. You provide a great deal of information on pricing which is needed. Thanks for providing clarity on the infomercial type selling tactics. Wasn’t sure if those made bloggers look credible.

  4. Some excellent tips. It’s a fine balance to get right, but if you do the correct math you should get close.

    I’m totally with you with regards to putting the price for all to see. I hate it when companies or individuals require you to submit a for a quote. It’s so old fashioned and screams to me as an old school company. For the most part, i do not want to buy from these organisations. I want new, fresh, modern living businesses to spend my cash on :)

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  5. Thanks Greg, this is a great read. It highlights that there’s no easy way to price your product, however putting together a spreadsheet of costs and time spent is very helpful.

    It takes time and I think its also important to split test different price points to see what works and what doesn’t convert, in order to find the sweet spot.

  6. Hi Greg,

    Don’t know how many times I have visited a page and noticed there’s no price to be found I usually get annoyed and leave. People need to know this it helps them decide :)

    Thanks
    David

  7. I am the owner of several blogs, and i am eager to improve them.

  8. Heptil says:

    Very informative. yes it is important not to set the prices too low otherwise finally it is the customer who will get the advantage.

  9. Nice, But i like that point about dont hide your price
    its give me new inspiration
    Thankz

  10. Like your post ! ^_^
    regards,

  11. Scott Mathew says:

    Hi,

    I own some quality financial websites on Mortgage, Real estate, Loan, Debt & other various finance topics. Today I visited your website and I found the content of your website is excellent.

    I am interested to do guest post submission in your site:blogworldexpo.com.Each of my content is analytical, relevant and copy scape proved. If you wish, you can suggest few topics also for your website.

    In return, I would gladly place your articles in my websites. This mutual content exchange will help our websites to get more targeted visitors.

    Let me know your thought about the deal.

    Regards,
    Scott

  12. Nice Tips… I am regular reader at problogger. Nice Tips… Thanks for these tips… :) :)

  13. I’m about to release my first online paid product, and have changed the price already 3 times before releasing it, I think I got the right one now, but we’ll see, it may need some post release adjustments ;)

  14. Rhonda Lease says:

    This is just what I need to improve my products blog sites. What I like most is that “Be honest with what your product can do.” Just tell your customer, honestly how this product work and if it is a sure effective or what.

  15. john murphy says:

    One thing we can all get carried away with is not accounting for our expenses, especially since most bloggers are so ‘into’ the subject matter that they are writing about. Good post! thanks

  16. Hey Gregg,

    I think if you are creating your own products then Split Testing different Price Points has to come into play. Start high, then drop it and after a few goes you’ll find your “Sweet Spot” i.e. where you are seeing maximum conversions…

    Another note would be to not charge too little for your product. If you charge a ridiculously low price for a high end product people may be suspicious of it and not click the “Order” button. But anyway the name of the game is Test, Test and Test some more until you hit a home run!

    Great series,
    Noel.

  17. This is valuable stuff Greg, thanks for clarifying it for me. :) Since blogging I have learned through trial and error but learning what works and doesn’t from those before me works much better.

  18. Nick Denton says:

    Pricing is one of the most confusing things for micro and small enterprise.

    But yet, we can easily double revenue by setting the right price. I suggest split testing with a small group of audience. Once in the black, you can do media buying or whatever to increase traffic and reap all the profits.

    It’s testing all the way…

  19. ashish says:

    nice articles thanks and product has cools features and these features are easy to use or loveable as user points of view.

  20. Troy Vayanos says:

    Nice post by Greg,

    I’ve only just started my blog and in the beginning have set up the advertisements and adsense. I’m curious about what type of product is best to sell in a sports niche like golf when a large majority of the information is ‘FREE’ online. In particular i’m talking about ‘golf instruction’. How do you get someone to pay for something that with enough searching online that can get for nothing?

    Cheers

    • is says:

      great question! Troy,?
      exactly my point as well, how can we still profit if most of the information is already available for them by a simple type and click of the interne for free?

      Cheers Troy

      please can anyone educate us?

  21. Quang Pham says:

    Very useful article, I thank you for sharing.

  22. Shalu Sharma says:

    I think all bloggers should go beyond from just promoting products to creating something. If a blogger is able to think something out of the box and create something, the product is bound to sell, be it it only services. Pricing the product is a difficult one. Adjust the price to cover the costs and also the competitors.

  23. Linkbuilder says:

    Don’t know how many times I have visited a page and noticed there’s no price to be found I usually get annoyed and leave. People need to know this it helps them decide :)

  24. Swati says:

    completely unrelated to the above post but I was wondering if you know any plugins or services to create mobile versions of blogspot blogs just like WPtouch???? would be of great help!!! I did try out conduit but it doesn’t dsplay my whole post. instead links to it.

  25. William says:

    Greg, your giving away the farm here buddy,hehe. Excellent post. I would like to add that all niche bloggers need to create products because:

    1. Products add value to your blog’s content
    2. Free and properly priced products will increase your popularity. Popularity = Traffic Just look at Probloggers 31 days to building a better blog

    3. I am a Christian blogger, and I do not foresee any products that I create to become the next bestseller on Click Bank, however, if the reader has Faith and will “Be honest with what your product can do. It won’t (CAN) make the blind walk and the lame see. But will it show readers how to declutter their lives once and for all?” You bet.

    Take care and keep up the great work. I look forward to more from you Greg

  26. William says:

    Ooop’s, I thought the last reply might have been mine own typo but wasn’t.

    Any product I create “It won’t make the blind walk and the lame see”. however , will could make the blind see and the lame walk.